Let’s Face Facts: Hiller is the #1 Goalie

Every few games, someone in the media horde will ask. And every few games, Bob Hartley will have a similar response.

Have they decided on a number-one netminder? No. They have two number-ones.

All due respect to Coach Hartley, but that’s simply not true based on the way the goalies are being used.

When the season began, unlike last season, you could make an argument that Hartley was trying to evaluate his goaltenders and get some competition brewing. (Last season, the year began with stretches of multiple starts for Joey MacDonald and Karri Ramo, and later for Reto Berra.)

Let’s break it down into Hartley’s lauded seven-game segments:

  • Segment 1 (Games 1-7): Hiller gets four starts, Ramo gets three starts.
  • Segment 2 (Games 8-14): Hiller gets five starts, Ramo gets two starts. (Hiller has a five-game starting run beginning here.)
  • Segment 3 (Games 9-21): Hiller gets five starts, Ramo gets two starts. (Hiller’s five-game run concludes; Ramo gets pulled from a start.)
  • Segment 4 (Games 22-28): Ramo gets six starts, Hiller gets one start. (This segment features a five-game run for Ramo, which coincided with the Flames losing streak ending and Hartley rewarding him.)
  • Segment 5 (Games 29-35): Hiller gets five starts, Ramo gets two starts. (Back to normal! Hiller begins a seven-game starting run here).
  • Segment 6 (Games 36-42): Hiller gets six starts, Ramo gets one start. (Hiller’s seven-game run ends here. Ramo gets a start but leaves due to an injury, so Hiller actually plays in every game of this segment.)
  • Segment 7 (Games 43-49): Ortio gets five starts, Hiller gets two starts. (Joni Ortio is recalled and goes five straight, getting pulled in his final game. Hiller gets his net back and begins a string of eight straight starts.)
  • Segment 8 (Games 50-56): Hiller gets six starts, Ramo gets one start. (Hiller concludes a string of eight straight starts by getting pulled in his final game.)
  • Segment 9 (Games 57-): Ramo gets one start, so far, and gets yanked. Hiller is expected to start against Minnesota tonight.

We’ve had eight full seven-game segments so far this season. Hiller has started the majority of the games in six of these segments. Let’s put it another way: Hiller has started nearly twice as many games (34 versus 18) as Karri Ramo. That’s pretty decisive.

To be blunt: Bob Hartley’s “we have two number ones!” argument holds no water.

  • piscera.infada

    To be blunt: Bob Hartley’s “we have two number ones!” argument holds no water.

    Or, you know, he’s saying that simply to try and show some semblance of confidence in Ramo, lest Hiller go down for an extended period.

    I agree Hiller is utilized as the number one, but he’s surely not a number one like Lundqvist, Price, Rinne, etc. are number ones. Ramo is more than capable of playing at a level similar to Hiller for an extended period–I doubt there would be a drastic drop-off in goaltending if Hiller did get injured.

    At the moment though, Hiller is the more stable of the two, and thus gives the team the best chance to win.

  • Parallex

    Hiller was the #1 from the second he was signed. I mean does anyone think that Hiller would have signed here without an assurance that he was the #1 goaltender? I don’t.

    Regardless of the number of starts you can see from the amount of leash that Hiller gets that he’s the number 1… to put it plainly Karri Ramo has not gotten a start after a poor performance and Jonas Hiller has. Hartley’s willing to ride a hot hand and he’s not treating Hiller like the proverbial government mule (AKA Kiprusoff like) but it’s been apparent for a while that Hiller is his guy.

    “I agree Hiller is utilized as the number one, but he’s surely not a number one like Lundqvist, Price, Rinne, etc. are number ones.”

    Sure… but the bar to clear to be considered a #1 shouldn’t be set at those three guys. They’re the elite talent at the position not just #1’s.

    • piscera.infada

      “I agree Hiller is utilized as the number one, but he’s surely not a number one like Lundqvist, Price, Rinne, etc. are number ones.”

      Sure… but the bar to clear to be considered a #1 shouldn’t be set at those three guys. They’re the elite talent at the position not just #1’s.

      Not what I was saying at all. The tone of the article seemed to indicate that Hartley was trying to “pull a fast one” in some sense. I was merely stated that yes, Hiller is utilized as the number one, but he’s not necessarily the “elite number one goalie” that is either: a) immune to long stretches of poor play, and/or b) going to sink your team with an injury (although he may, Ramo has the ability to at least give you equivalent quality).

      Nowhere did I say “he’s not a number one, because he’s not of the quality of Ludqvist, Price, or Rinne”.

    • piscera.infada

      Hiller hasn’t started after a poor game though. The only times he’s started after a regulation loss were when his team only scored 1 or fewer goals.

      Go back to the losing streak..ramo-hiller-ramo-Hiller(1-3 loss)-hiller-ramo-hiller(1-2 loss)-Hiller. Hell, Ramo started the game after Hiller had a sweet game vs Chicago which I thought was a poor move.

      In the 3 game skid it was Hiller-Ramo-Hiller-Ortio

      Hartley has yet this season to not play a guy after a win (except maybe back to backs, can’t remember). He also has yet to play a guy after a loss where his team was actually scoring a pair of goals (i might be wrong but I don’t think so).

      Hartley has been very consistent. That Hiller has earned more starts is not Hartley secretly playing #1 vs #2 favoritism, it’s just been a reward for winning games. The team did let Ramo down vs Boston too, or Ramo might be the one starting the next game.

  • Toofun

    Hartley’s assertion that we have two number ones is just good coaching:

    – Healthly competition between Hiller and Ramo is constructive for both.

    – Takes some pressure off Hiller’s shoulders.

    – Gives Ramo increased confidence.

    – Increases Ramo’s trade value in the last year of his contract.

    – Gives the team increased confidence in their goal tending tandem.

    This is a situation where saying very positive things to the media about his confidence in his players is beneficial to both the players and the team.

  • Burnward

    Anyone seen word on how Bennett is playing in practice? Caught that he wants to get back on the ice ASAP the other day.

    Just wondering if he looks rusty/ready etc.

    Sorry to highjack. Looked like things on the Hiller front has been settled.

  • Burnward

    two number 1’s or not, one of them has to go at or before TDL. Unless, of course someone makes an unbelievable offer for our 3rd guy, Ortio, that we cannot refuse but that’s highly unlikely. The way I see it, teams are asking about Hiller, BT is probably listening and then politely suggesting that the trade partner might consider Ramo unless the offer is ridiculously favourable.Either way, I’m happy with either of them carrying the mail next year with Joni getting a bit more seasoning, and maybe pushing a bit as well.

  • beloch

    In my opinion, Hartley’s comments about having two #1 goalies is “marketing”. Nobody in the Flames org wants Ramo to look like one of Kipper’s backups. It’s bad for Ramo’s next contract. It’s bad for the return the Flames might get at the deadline. It’s just bad.

    Ramo had a bad game against the Bruins. Not every goal was his fault, but that slapper from past the hash marks that he let in short-side without a screen… That did not look good. Hiller gets the next start, but I’d expect Ramo will get more soon, especially since there’s a back-to-back coming before the trade deadline.